Juneau, located along the beautiful Gastineau Channel and at the foot of Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts, is the one state U.S. capital accessible only by sea and air.
There are a variety of activities available. You can visit the Mendenhall Glacier, soar like an eagle on the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway, and visit one of the oldest Southeast Alaskan Churches, the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox. Several museums feature Juneau’s story, from the earliest cultures to the gold mines of the past. Be sure to take one of the whale watching cruises and learn about the commercial fishing industry’s importance. Of course, one also wants to savor the culinary scene and enjoy libations at a distillery and historic pubs.
You can arrive either by plane or ship. If arriving by plane, I recommend taking a taxi or bus downtown.The Capital Transit City Busalso services the airport, but your luggage needs to fit under the seat.
Here are 14 activities for you to enjoy in Juneau.
I received some discounts as part of my attendance at an International Conference. Discounted experiences include my stay at The Alaskan Hotel and Bar, Juneau Food Tour, Juneau Whale Watching, and Salmon Beyond Borders. Chef Mara gave me a tour of her cooking studio and prepared a delicious lunch for me. I also enjoyed a complimentary tasting at Amalga Distillery. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Things To Do In Juneau
Visit Sealaska Heritage
A must-visit isSealaska Heritage Institute, an amazing opportunity to learn more about Southeast Alaska Native peoples. Stop to marvel at the clan house front in the foyer. The carved cedar exterior tells the legend of Am’ala, the strongest man in the world. Step inside a clan house to learn more about the legend and the three regional Alaska Native Indigenous Groups: Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian.
The center also offers workshops on Northwest Coastart practices, virtual lectures, and other educational programs.
Stop at the gift store for unique Native art pieces.
AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour
Learn about Juneau’s gold mining history with theAJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour, once the world’s largest producing gold mine. Begin the tour underground on a boardwalk through the 360-foot tunnel. Above ground, wander amongst the vintage mining equipment and learn about the gold rush techniques. Enjoy panning for gold and shopping in the unique gift store. The tour is wheelchair accessible.
Pro Tip:Dress warmly and in layers as the underground tour can be very chilly.
Stop By St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
The tiny, ornate, octagonalSt. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Churchwas built in 1893 by Juneau’s largely Tlingit Russian Orthodox congregation. The Russian Orthodox Church is notable among colonial religions in that it did not force Alaska Natives to abandon their native languages, and instead translated its texts to make them more accessible. Russians sent plans and funds for the construction.
Pro Tip:In the church courtyard is a memorial honoring some 800 Aleuts — Americans who, during World War II, were forcibly relocated from their homes far to the north to an internment camp in Southeast Alaska, with predictably dire results. Stop by and pay homage.
Explore The Alaska State Museum
With both permanent and visiting exhibits, theAlaska State Museumis the setting to learn about the state’s history and Alaska Native cultures, including the southern Tlingit, central Athabascan, and coastal Aleut, Inupiat, and Yupik peoples, among others. There are also mining, wildlife, and Russian-American displays.
From May to October of 2021, look out forThe Spirit Wraps Around You, an exhibit honoring Northwest Coast Native textiles. Check thislinkfor other upcoming events. The state museum also has a Native artist residency program.
Meet Patsy Ann: The Official Greeter Of Juneau
Stroll the seawalk and meetPatsy Ann, the state greeter. The dog statue honors a little deaf terrier dog named Patsy Ann, who, for over 13 years, would come down to the waterfront daily to greet the ships and tourists. Local legend is that if you pet her, you will have good luck.
Pause At The Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial
Also, on the seawalk, pause at theAlaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial. The quiet place is an area for reflection and remembrance of the men and women who have given their lives to the Alaska Fishing Industry. The site is also the location of the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Reading of Names.
Close by a stop at the visitor center to pick up the Downtown Business Association Map: Your Guide To Juneau.
Enjoy The Mount Roberts Tramway
Take theGoldbelt Mount Roberts Tramwayto enjoy marvelous views of the city, mountains, and waterways below. The 5-minute tram is the only tramway in Southeast Alaska and takes you up — way up — 1,800 feet, to be exact. Stop at the Sky Bridge and Mountain House to explore the bald eagle display courtesy of theJuneau Raptor Center, enjoy the wildlife viewing platforms, and walk the trails. Be sure to watch the 18-minute film titledSeeing Daylight,which describes the Tlingit way of life. Enjoy lunch at theTimberline Bar and Grillbefore your descent back to town.
Watch For Whales With Juneau Tours And Whale Watch
Both the vessel and the staff are great! Listen to the narrated tour to learn about these fabulous whales and the pods. Watch for blow spouts and mothers with babies.
Walk On Ice At Mendenhall Glacier
Located in the Mendenhall Valley, just 13 miles from downtown Juneau, is theMendenhall Glacier. Fed by the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Icefield, the glacier is 13.6 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It is Alaska’s most accessible and photographed ice field.
Begin at theVisitor Centerto learn about glacier dynamics and the wildlife of the area. There are exhibits, a film, interpretive talks, and nature hikes with Forestry Rangers. Marvel at the stunning views of the glacier and lake.
There are two accessible entrances — an upper entrance with a ramp and the lower entrance with elevators.
Stroll the .5-mile nature trail near the Visitor Center. Pause at the Steep Creek Viewing Platform to look for spawning salmon from mid-July through mid-September. Marvel at the black bears and bald eagles from mid-September through mid-November.
Also, consider a charter flight over the glacier, which you will find through thislink.
Pro Tip:I suggest you take a taxi to the Visitor Center as the public transit stop is quite a distance from the center.
Learn About Salmon Beyond Borders And Salmon State
We enjoyed the day traveling up the Taku River to observe commercial fishers and meet Captain Tyson. Salmon Beyond Borders sponsored this trip.
Salmon Beyond Borders is a campaign of concerned citizens, fishermen, and tourism bureaus in collaboration with local tribes and First Nations of the U.S. and Canada, particularly Alaska and British Columbia. Their mission is to sustain and defend the transboundary rivers, jobs, and way of life of the salmon industry. They look for positive international solutions to fishing challenges.
Travel With Alaska Sea To Shore
The boat and captain that took us up the Taku River to meet Captain Tyson isAlaska Sea To Shore. It is a small family-owned company that offers custom tours and water taxi services. I loved the beach landing at remote Dorothy Creek. Here we enjoyed a catered lunch by Chef Mara.
Savor The Culinary Scene
Sample the delicacies of Alaskan Cuisine on theJuneau Food Tour. Our guide introduced the tour with “Our food is our way of life. It is who we are!” VisitTracy’s Crab Shackfor the famous crab bisque and King Crab Legs. Taste kelp salsa, caribou, and buffalo sausage atThe Salmon Shop.McGivney’s Sports Bar And Grillis the place to catch up on all your favorite games and sports. Be sure to order the famous hog wings.
AtSALT, enjoy the seared halibut paired with white wine.
Stop atDeckhand Daves, the food truck close to the Alaskan Hotel, to sample the fish tacos. Locals suggest that one cannot go to Juneau without eating at Deckhand Daves. I returned my last afternoon in Juneau, and as I was waiting in line, a woman approached me and asked if I was by myself. When I replied yes, she invited me to join her and her friend. What great Alaskan hospitality! I enjoyed their company. Thanks, Donna and June!
I had the pleasure of meeting and tasting the culinary delicacies of Chef Amara andBrava Food. Chef Amara catered the delicious lunch on the Salmon Without Borders trip. I sent her my compliments, and she responded with the offer to host me for lunch the next day. Chef Amara has a Cooking Studio on-site for lessons and intimate dinner parties and also offers take-out lunches. All ingredients are locally sourced, and all the greens are grown on the property.
Enjoy Libations At A Distillery And Historic Pubs
When you have worked up a thirst, consider stopping byAmalga Distillery, Juneau’s first distillery. Amalga uses a variety of botanicals, including locally sourced spruce tips. My favorite is the Juneauper Gin.
Two other popular watering holes are theRed Dog Saloonand the bar at The Alaskan Hotel.
Best Hotels In Juneau
I stayed the week at theAlaskan Hotel, built in 1913 during Alaska’s Gold Rush. The Alaskan Hotel is the oldest in Juneau and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
The Victorian architecture has wooden floors, high ceilings, stained glass, and lovely vintage furniture. Do be sure to stop in for a drink at the bar. With live music and entertainment, the bar is a throwback to Juneau’s mining days. Taste the Alaskan Amber Ale, brewed locally and delicious. Look behind the bar for one of Wyatt Earp’s pistols.
You might be interested in the bookThe Life and Times of The Alaskan Hotelby Joshua Adams. The history is quite impressive!
Note:The hotel has no elevators, so it may not be appropriate for all.
Another option isJorgensen Bed and Breakfast, a luxurious bed and breakfast in a historical setting. Just a 10-minute walk from downtown Juneau, the home was initially built at the Klondike Gold Rush height in 1915. Extensively remodeled, the house retains the original artifacts, photos, and original artwork. The four-course breakfasts are a highlight.
With all the choices listed above, you will find it challenging to do the city justice in a long weekend. I am sure you will want to return for a second visit.
“You have more of a chance of seeing a bear in downtown Juneau than along the shores of the Taku River,” stated one of our guides. Keep your eyes open and rememberwildlife safety.
Juneau is one of Alaska’s largest ports of call and the second most visited city in the state. It can be crowded during the cruise season. You might consider visiting off-season.
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With so much to do and see, you would ideally want to spend a full week in Juneau, but with proper planning, you can experience the highlights over a long weekend getaway. If you're planning a 3-day trip to Juneau, you won't be hard-pressed for things to do.What should I wear to Mendenhall Glacier? ›
Come prepared with clothing that is warm even when wet - such as wool and polar fleece - and with items that can be layered. Raingear, hats, gloves and sturdy shoes or hiking boots are strongly recommended.Is Juneau worth seeing? ›
Is Juneau, Alaska worth visiting? Juneau is a beautiful place to visit in Southeast Alaska. Most people that visit Juneau will do so aboard a cruise to Alaska. It is possible, especially if you are flying to Alaska from Seattle, to stop in Juneau for a few days on the way up to Anchorage.Is Juneau walkable from cruise ship? ›
Juneau is a very walkable city. Most cruise ships dock right in downtown, and visitors can leave the ship and walk all throughout downtown, shopping and exploring. There are some attractions that are outside of downtown area. To reach those, a tour or taxi are a great option.What is the best month to visit Juneau? ›
The best time to visit is during the summer months. The summer months in Juneau are from May to September, and the temperatures range from highs of 60F to lows of 40F. This is the peak tourist season and the most popular time to visit the city.How walkable is Juneau? ›
Downtown Juneau is very walkable, and you can get to many landmarks within 15 minutes from the docks. You can also explore at your own pace by renting a car.Can I see the northern lights in Juneau? ›
Juneau is a wonderful place in Alaska where you can watch the Aurora phenomenon. Go hiking on some of the trails at Juneau to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Better still, kayak off the coast of Juneau to explore the Tongass National Forest or see the still waters of the Mendenhall glacier.Can you go to Mendenhall Glacier on your own? ›
While many people go to Mendenhall Glacier with a tour group or on a shore excursion, you can also get to the glacier on your own. You can take a taxi from Juneau, drive to the glacier with a rental car, or take the city bus to Glacier Spur Road and walk the rest of the way (1.5 miles).What shoes to wear on Mendenhall Glacier? ›
You must wear solid shoes such as ankle high waterproof hiking boots or waterproof trail runners. Lots of traction needed and plan on getting your feet wet, it is a rainforest after all.Do you dress up for dinner on an Alaskan cruise? ›
Dinner or “Smart Casual” clothes
During dinner in the ship's main restaurant, cruisers will dress according to Celebrity Cruises' dress code. Women can wear a smart dress, skirt, pants, or jeans with a casual top, and men can dress in pants or jeans with a short-sleeve sport shirt.
There is a $5 entrance fee for 16 & over at the visitor center during summer months (May 1 to September 30) when the visitor center is open from 8:00am-7:30pm daily. Winter (October to April) is free (no fee required) and visitor center hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am - 4:00pm.Does Juneau rain everyday? ›
There can be up to 250 wet days per year. The normal "dry season" in Juneau is March, April, May, and June. The driest months are April and June with 2.77 inches and 3.15 inches respectively. April, May, and June usually have a few sunny periods lasting several days.What is special about Juneau? ›
Juneau is many things: a mountain town, a coastal community and the most scenic capital city in the U.S. A natural wonder, wildlife hotspot and cultural jewel, Juneau is rich in history, art, music and Native heritage.What is unique about Juneau? ›
The City. Juneau is a unique city: it's one of two US state capitals not connected to the mainland by road (the other being Honolulu). The only way to get here is either by boat or plane (it being surrounded by water on one side and the Juneau Icefield on the other).Is it better to get a balcony on an Alaskan cruise? ›
“If ever there was a cruise itinerary built for a balcony, it's an Alaskan cruise. The landscapes are incredible and there's a high probability you'll see whales. We recommend you find a room with a balcony and avoid the inside staterooms.Can you leave cruise ship without excursion? ›
You absolutely do not have to do shore excursions on a cruise. You are free to come and go at will from most cruise ships while they are in ports of call. Shore excursions are simply one means to explore the areas visited by the ship and to participate in available activities off the ship.Which is the best side of a cruise ship to be on Alaska? ›
You want to look at which way you are sailing. If you are cruising north, it's best to select a starboard (or right side) stateroom since the land is on that side. When sailing south from Alaska to Vancouver or Seattle, choose a port (left side) stateroom.What time can you see the northern lights in Juneau? ›
The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is between August and April, when less daylight leads to darker night skies.What is the best time of day to see whales in Juneau Alaska? ›
Whale Watching In The Morning vs Afternoon
It really doesn't matter what time of the day you go whale watching because whales are active throughout the day. Whether you book an early morning cruise, a midday cruise, or something later in the evening, you'll still have plenty of chances to see whales.
Juneau's coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight is 20.7°F. In July, the warmest month, the average day time temperature rises to 64.3°F.
Reserve a ride with Uber in advance in Juneau
Request a ride up to 30 days in advance, at any time and on any day of the year.
The five-minute ride takes you 1,800 feet halfway up the mountain for some spectacular views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. From there, you can explore the terrain further on one of the hiking trails.Do you need a car to get around Juneau? ›
Juneau spans 3,254 square miles. And while you might want a car to travel and see all that Juneau has to offer, you won't need a car in Juneau downtown because it is extremely walkable. Depending on where you stay in downtown Juneau, you might have a 1- to 2-mile walk to get to some sightseeing downtown.Is Mendenhall Glacier worth seeing? ›
The view of the 377-foot waterfall with the glacier in the background is breathtaking – and it is as close as you can get to the glacier short of taking a tour to actually walk on it. One of the most amazing ways to experience this area is via kayak on Mendenhall Lake.Do the northern lights happen every night? ›
There is no official season since the northern lights are almost always present, day and night. Caused by charged particles from the sun hitting atoms in Earth's atmosphere and releasing photons, it's a process that happens constantly.What is the best time of night to see the northern lights? ›
The Northern Lights can show at any time of the day as long as there are darkness, clear skies, and solar activity, as we mentioned before. Statistically, midnight and the hours around midnight from 10:00 to 2:00 are the best time of day to see the Northern Lights and when most Aurora sightings concentrate.How do I get to Mendenhall caves? ›
- Get To Juneau. ...
- Drive Toward Mendenhall Glacier In The Tongass National Forest. ...
- Trek To Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves. ...
- Arrive At The Western Flank Of The Glacier. ...
- Start Looking For A Stream Coming From The Glacier. ...
- Keep An Eye Out For An Opening. ...
- Head On In. ...
- Enjoy the Mendenhall Ice Caves.
These changes, along with rising lake levels, have left us with very limited safe areas to explore on the ice. For this reason, it is not safe to walk on the glacier. This trip will spend time exploring the glacier up close and hiking around the edges of it safely from the bedrock.How long until Mendenhall Glacier is gone? ›
The icefield's snowfall perpetually creates new glacial ice for Mendenhall Glacier and this ice takes 200-250 years to travel from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. Water depth at the glacier's terminus is 220 feet. At this rate, the glacier would take several centuries to completely disappear.How hard is the hike on Mendenhall Glacier? ›
The trail is moderate, with steep sections and stairs in some areas, and you'll even get another view of Nugget Falls! The Nugget Falls Trail is our favorite place to get closer to the massive glacier – and it has a bonus waterfall, too! The trail is less than one mile long, but it's beautiful.
|Winter (Dec 21 – Mar 20)||Spring (Mar 20 – Jun 20)||Summer (Jun 20 – Sep 22)|
|Rain jacket||Rain jacket||Rain jacket|
|Warm Hat & Warm Gloves||Hat / Cap & Thin Gloves||Hat / Cap & Thin Gloves|
At night for dinner guests can go for casual or smart casual clothes at most of the restaurants. Although for specialty restaurants in cruise ships a formal dress code is suggested. The cruise line does not have any kind of formal nights but 'Norwegian's night out' can be considered as the formal night.How much spending money should you take on an Alaskan cruise? ›
A typical Alaska Cruise can cost between $600 and $5,000 per person, depending on the length of your cruise, the type of cruise you choose, and your room choice. We recommend budgeting an additional $1,000 to $1,500 per person for shore excursions to get the most out of your Alaskan cruise.Is it cold on an Alaskan cruise? ›
Weather typically ranges from the 30s to a high of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. May itineraries invite guests to pack sweaters and jackets for easy layering.Can you see whales at Mendenhall Glacier? ›
You are guaranteed to see whales on this amazing and scenic Juneau whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier tour. Want to get out onto the open Alaskan waters? Our captains and naturalists will take you in search of humpback and killer whales, sea lions, porpoises and so much more!How do I get from Port to Mendenhall Glacier? ›
Getting There: Mendenhall Glacier is easily accessible from the cruise ship docks if you don't want to do an organized excursion as part of your Alaska cruise. There is a shuttle bus that picks people up in the parking lot beside the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tram.How far is Mendenhall Glacier from cruise ship? ›
Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is located approximately 13 miles from downtown Juneau and cruise ship docks. There are several transportation options from the Juneau cruise ship docks.Is it safe to drink water from Juneau? ›
Juneau's drinking water meets all the federal and state drinking water standards.Is it always cold in Juneau Alaska? ›
Temperature. In Juneau, the temperature typically varies from 20F to 61F over the course of the year, and is rarely above 70F. Summer season lasts from May to September, with average temperatures from 55F upwards.What would be the best season to visit Juneau and why? ›
The best time to visit Juneau is between May and August. You'll have to compete with hordes of cruise passengers at the area's top attractions, but the days will be long and sunny. Plus, these months correspond with whale migration season, meaning you're guaranteed to see some activity in the water.
Juneau has 1,109 millionaire households out of a total of 12,986.What are the 5 Peaks Juneau? ›
In ascending order of elevation, the five are Thunder, Jumbo, Juneau, Roberts, and McGinnis. Each trailhead starts near sea level and the summits range from just under 3,000 to just over 4,000 feet.Does Juneau have midnight sun? ›
In communities a little further south like Juneau and Kodiak, over 18 hours of sunlight shines on the longest day of the year. The summer days are so long that even locals lose track of time, so be sure to check your watch or phone when you're out and about in the evening!Why is Juneau so isolated? ›
Juneau is located along the shores of the Gastineau Channel, which narrows to the north of the city center, making it impossible for ships to continue northward. Thus all sea traffic must depart to the south and sail around Douglas Island, which blocks the city from the main Inside Passage.What is Juneau slogan? ›
"North to the Future" - Our motto was chosen in 1967 during the Alaska Purchase Centennial and was created by Juneau newsman Richard Peter. The motto is meant to represent Alaska as a land of promise.Is Juneau a walkable city? ›
Downtown Juneau is very walkable, and you can get to many landmarks within 15 minutes from the docks. You can also explore at your own pace by renting a car.How many days should you vacation in Alaska? ›
The sweet spot for an Alaska vacation is seven to 10 days. If you're traveling on a land tour only, in seven days you can go all the way from Kenai Fjords National Park to Denali National Park with plenty of time for day-long guided excursions along the way.Is 3 days enough in Alaska? ›
Most people plan at least three days in Anchorage during their Alaska travels. No matter how long you have, there are many ways to explore. Eat your way through Anchorage, dive into Alaska Native cultures, enjoy the great outdoors, search for bears, or see just how much you can fit into one day under the midnight sun.What is the cheapest month to visit Alaska? ›
If you're going to Alaska on a budget, May and September are your friend! (Pro tip: late winter is the best time to visit Fairbanks and to see the Northern Lights). In May and September it's easier to find lodging and lodging is often less expensive.What is the best of year to go to Alaska? ›
The best time to visit Alaska is during the summer months. While our summer season is short, it is the driest, warmest time to visit. Starting mid May and ending mid September you are sure to see the best the State of Alaska has to offer...
Alaska is just expensive in general. With it being so far away from the rest of the Lower 48, it costs a lot to ship things up here. Additionally, businesses know people are traveling to Alaska and can increase prices because it's such an attractive place. Simple economics.Do I need a Covid test to fly to Juneau Alaska? ›
Fully-vaccinated travelers are not asked to test or self-quarantine. HERE are the current mitigation plans in place for Juneau, Alaska. For inquiries regarding visiting the great state of Alaska, call the COVID-19 Traveler Hotline at 907-258-4217, or visit the Alaska Travel Industry Association website.How do people get around in Juneau? ›
Capital Transit is the public transportation provider for the community of the City and Borough of Juneau. They provide a fixed route bus service on three routes with ridership of over 1.25 million passenger trips annually.What does a Alaska trip cost? ›
A typical 7-day Alaska vacation costs around $3000 per person—a little over $400 per day. Here's an average breakdown, based upon our analysis of hundreds of actual itineraries.How many days can you go without sun in Alaska? ›
In Barrow, the northernmost village in the state, there is no daylight for 64 days in the heart of the winter. The sun does not rise above the horizon. Deep winter in the northern hemisphere is summer in the south.Is driving in Alaska easy? ›
Driving Alaska roads is easy whether you are in a car, minivan, camper or full-size RV. The majority of highways are paved with good surfaces and well maintained.